By Michelle Worthington & Nicky Johnston
How do you express love when words fail you? This beautiful picture book by award‐winning Australian author, Michelle Worthington, uses the writers own experience of early onset dementia to explore the topic in a child friendly way.
65% of total deaths due to dementia globally are women. Many of whom are caregivers at the time of diagnosis. Contrary to popular belief dementia does not only impact the elderly. In fact 28,000 of the Australians living with dementia today are mothers under the age of 50 with children at home.
Award‐winning Brisbane children’s author Michelle Worthington is one of those women. She has been diagnosed with Progressive Nonfluent Aphasia (a form of dementia).
Michelle is about to release a new picture book, Mama’s Chickens, which she hopes will raise awareness and help children understand what dementia can look like when their caregiver suffers from it.
Like other people with this condition and Michelle herself, the character in Mama’s Chickens experiences memory loss, difficulty thinking, trouble recognising people, and confusion.
In the story Mama’s nurturing relationship with the family’s brood of backyard chickens is a metaphor for the relationship with her children. As Mama’s dementia progresses the children see that she doesn’t always act like her old self anymore; This upsets both the children and the chickens, but Mama always finds ways to show them just how much they are wanted and loved.
Children will relate to the endearing personalities of the chickens, while Michelle’s lived experience infuses the story with honesty and hope. The result is a supportive, and much‐needed book about a reality that many families face.
Mama’s Chickens is available 1st March, 2023. RRP $24.99. Buy it here.
“This is a beautiful book that helps tell an important, much-needed story about disability and acceptance as Mama loves and cares for her chickens, just as she loves and care for her children, despite the challenges that she is faced with. I love that the book showcases early-onset dementia, which is a reality of many families, in a child-friendly manner. This book helps children understand what dementia can look. The book has initiated open and honest communication with my daughter (who is 7 years old), where we have spoken about dementia not only affecting the elderly and what symptoms such as memory loss, confusion and acting unlike themselves looks like. The book is easy to read, that my daughter is enjoying to read herself (and to her 3 year old brother). – Amy, a Northern Beaches Mum
ABOUT THE CREATORS
Michelle Worthington is an international award‐winning author of empowering picture books for children, Tow of her books have been shortlisted for the CBCA’s Picture Book of The Year.
Nicky Johnston is an illustrator, teacher and presenter, aiming to inspire young children to use their imagination and develop their own ideas.